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U.S. Opinions: Washington

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Hands off Hong Kong

From an editorial in Monday’s Washington Post:

Over the past week a remarkable exercise in self-government has been taking place in Hong Kong. If China’s rulers were more adept and less insecure, they would embrace the process. Instead they seem intent on delivering another self-inflicted wound.

Despite Chinese objections and cyberattacks, more than 750,000 people – over a fifth of Hong Kong’s registered voters – have cast ballots in an unofficial poll. Organized by a nonviolent protest group called Occupy Central with Love and Peace, it asks residents to choose among three electoral reforms for selection of Hong Kong’s top leader. China has steered the selection process of Hong Kong’s chief executive but had promised to allow it universal suffrage by 2017.

Now it seems China plans to stick to the letter, but not the spirit, of its promise. China will impose a pro-Beijing committee to nominate candidates for general election, disqualifying anyone who doesn’t “love the country and love Hong Kong.”

China has mostly honored its promise of “one country, two systems,” keeping its hands off Hong Kong’s independent rule even as leaders tightened repression in the mainland. Hong Kong thrived. But there are disturbing signs that China may be rethinking its hands-off policy. A few weeks ago, China released a white paper that asserted its “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong.

The United States should be clear that being pro-China means advocating for Hong Kong’s genuine democracy, including allowing a real choice in the nomination and election of chief executive candidates.

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